Top positive review
Spooky, haunting, and so much fun.
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2018
Evidently, my autumn 2018 aesthetic is devouring every haunted house story I can get my hands on, and Kill Creek has been one of the strangest, most unexpected stories yet. It makes perfect sense that it’s being adapted for Showtime right now, because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that felt as much like a horror movie/show as this one does.
First, the house itself is easily my favorite aspect of this novel. It’s got this incredibly morbid past with a slew of haunting incidents, bizarre old ladies (because what’s a good haunted house without a creepy old lady haunting it, honestly?), and a stairway leading to a solid brick wall. The atmosphere? On point.
Not only do I love a good, atmospheric location, but Kill Creek brings a cast of complex and interesting characters to the table, too. There’s Sam McGarver, the primary main, who won me over from the very beginning by introducing himself with a tangent about subgenres and what defines gothic horror. He’s got a twisted background that is only revealed to us in snippets here and there, each one darker than the last, but he’s a genuinely good guy and you can’t help but root for him.
Next up is TC Moore, who I initially held conflicted feelings about but grew to enjoy. She’s an extreme horror author, and consistently the butt of jokes about the sexual and graphic content in her stories (which felt very true-to-life considering the way much of the horror literature fandom treats fans of extreme horror, as well as the authors themselves). Sam is quick to come to her defense in a way that’s just obvious enough to indicate that the petty teasing isn’t the author’s own perspective on extreme horror.
Then comes Daniel Slaughter, the Christian teen horror author whose entire character arc cracked me up, because I grew up in a strict religious home where I was limited to religious or “clean” fiction for a long time, and Daniel reminded me way too much of a few authors I reached for as a kid. I’m seeing a lot of reviewers call him the RL Stine knock-off character of the story, and I could see that, but I’d also say he reminds me of Frank Peretti. (Hangman’s Curse, anyone?)
And finally, my favorite—Sebastian Cole, our King-esque trendsetter. He’s an older gentleman who’s been a bestseller for nearly as long as the other three have been alive, and he’s full to the brim of advice despite holding a few outdated opinions on the genre. He’s downright full of surprises—both good and bad—but ultimately, I’m always a sucker for the “old mentor” character archetype.
So far, we’ve got the mood, setting, characters—all that’s left to rave about is the action, which doesn’t pick up right away, but bear with it, because the second half makes up for it. The ending had me on the edge of my seat, totally unwilling to tear myself away for even a moment, and just when I thought I had figured things out, a wrench would be thrown in the works that totally threw my guesses out the window.
I only have two negative things to say about Kill Creek, so let’s get them out of the way:
1. The pacing, at times, is a struggle. There are segments that dragged, though they are filled with enough character building that I was never necessarily bored. I just wanted a little bit more from those chapters.
2. TC Moore. Don’t get me wrong, I love angry feminist characters. I relate to them (ha!). Moore just takes it to this unreasonable level at times, so there were occasional moments where I couldn’t tell if these features were just part of her character, or if it was intended to be an exaggerated, caricature. Given that she progresses into a tremendously more likable person as the story goes on, and I found myself rooting for her by the end, I think the intentions were good, but she grated on me for the first 100 pages or so.
That’s it! All that raving and only two (pretty minor) issues, so I’m sure it’s no surprise that I gave this 4.5 stars (and felt comfortable rounding up to 5). If you enjoy unique haunted house stories and don’t mind a solid helping of character development and world-building within your horror, I strongly recommend grabbing a copy of Kill Creek and settling in. This would be a perfect addition to your Halloween reading list!